Manifesto against conscription


In the name of humanity,
for the sake of all civilians threatened by war crimes,
especially women and children, and
for the benefit of Mother Nature suffering from war preparations and warfare,

We, the undersigned, plea for the universal abolition of conscription as one major and decisive step towards complete disarmament.

We remember the message of 20th century-humanists:

"It is our belief that conscript armies, with their large corps of professional officers, are a grave menace to peace. Conscription involves the degradation of human personality, and the destruction of liberty. Barrack life, military drill, blind obedience to commands, however unjust and foolish they may be, and deliberate training for slaughter undermine respect for the individual, for democracy and human life.

It is debasing human dignity to force men to give up their life, or to inflict death against their will, or without conviction as to the justice of their action. The State which thinks itself entitled to force its citizens to go to war will never pay proper regard to the value and happiness of their lives in peace. Moreover, by conscription the militarist spirit of aggressiveness is implanted in the whole male population at the most impressionable age. By training for war men come to consider war as unavoidable and even desirable." (1)

"Conscription subjects individual personalities to militarism. It is a form of servitude. That nations routinely tolerate it, is just one more proof of its debilitating influence.Military training is schooling of body and spirit in the art of killing. Military training is education for war. It is the perpetuation of war spirit. It hinders the development of the desire for peace." (2)

We encourage all people to emancipate themselves from the military system and, therefore, apply methods of non-violent resistance on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, as they were: Conscientious Objection (by conscripts and professional soldiers, in war and peace time), Civil Disobedience, War Tax Resistance, Non-Cooperation with military research, military production and arms trade.

In our age of electronic warfare and media manipulation, we cannot deny our responsibility to act in time, according to our consciences. It is high time to demilitarize our minds and our societies, to speak out against war and all preparations for it.
Now is the time to act, now is the time to create and to live in a way that saves the lives of others.

(1) Anti-Conscription Manifesto 1926, signed among others by Henri Barbusse, Annie Besant, Martin Buber, Edward Carpenter, Miguel de Unamuno, Georges Duhamel, Albert Einstein, August Forel, M.K. Gandhi, Kurt Hiller, Toyohiko Kagawa, George Lansbury, Paul Loebe, Arthur Ponsonby, Emanuel Radl, Leonhard Ragaz, Romain Rolland, Bertrand Russell, Rabindranath Tagore, Fritz von Unruh, H.G. Wells

(2) Against Conscription and the Military Training of Youth 1930, signed among others by Jane Addams, Paul Birukov and Valentin Bulgakov (collaborators of Leo Tolstoy), John Dewey, Albert Einstein, August Forel, Sigmund Freud, Arvid Jaernefelt, Toyohiko Kagawa, Selma Lagerloef, Judah Leon Magnes, Thomas Mann, Ludwig Quidde, Emanuel Radl, Leonhard Ragaz, Henriette Roland Holst, Romain Rolland, Bertrand Russell, Upton Sinclair, Rabindranath Tagore, H.G. Wells, Stefan Zweig

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